Kuwait is faced with a growing population and a lack of hospital space. The situation has been complicated by the rising prevalence of chronic diseases among the local population. Obesity has become a significant problem in the emirate, with 88 per cent of Kuwaitis classed as medically overweight, and a third of the population suffering from obesity. Currently, the state spends upwards of $1bn a year on sending citizens abroad for treatment, a bill that is likely to increase alongside the rise in chronic diseases. To combat this, the government plans to create 3,500 new hospital beds by 2016, alongside a number of new research and surgery units.
The Ministry of Health is the main client in the sector, which is heavily dominated by the state – 80 per cent of all investment in healthcare in the emirate originates from the government.
At the heart of the ministry’s plan is a major scheme to build eight new hospitals by 2016 and expand nine existing facilities. The new hospitals include Farwaniya, with 500 beds; IBN SINA, with 500 beds; a new maternity hospital with 600 beds; Al-Jahra, with 800 beds; Al-Amiri, with 360 beds; a 600-bed cancer centre; and a new 1,000-bed children’s hospital. Kuwait has some $7.3bn-worth of healthcare projects planned or underway.
The biggest contract award in 2012 at the time of writing was the $616m deal secured by the local Alghanim International General Trading & Contracting to build the Kuwait Cancer Centre in the Sabah area of the country. The second-largest medical award was the $430m contract won by the local Associated Construction Company (Asco) for the expansion of the existing Al-Amiri hospital.
The award of three other contracts pushed the combined value of construction deals awarded for medical projects this year to $1.2bn.
The ministry is also a major employer of expatriates. Some 80 per cent of doctors and 90 per cent of nurses are from outside Kuwait. The construction of the new hospitals will create demand for an estimated 15,000 new healthcare professionals in the emirate, with hiring likely to begin in 2014.
Kuwait is creating 3,500 new hospital beds, while working on a slew of new research and surgery units